is an update on what is happening with the SMART curriculum in Escanaba,
Michigan. They have just received a 2.3 million dollar federal grant to
be the national distributors of this info.
I remember when my 1st grade teacher told us that cigarettes can kill
people. My dad smoked ! I loved my dad and didn't want him to die. So
I hid his cigarettes. He convinced me that that was not a good idea, but
the generation that was taught in elementary school about the health risk
of tobacco is the generation that grew up and played pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey
with the tobacco industry.
Now we are on the threshold of a generation that will be informed about
the health impact of media violence, and the result will be a major victory
for our children and for our civilization.
The Delta-Schoolcraft school district, based in Escanaba Michigan, was
the first school district in the world to use the Stanford 'SMART' (TV/video
game turnoff) curriculum across the entire district. The pilot study was
done in one school in the fall '04. They initiated the curriculum which
culminated in a 10-day TV/video game turnoff which resulted in an 80%
reduction in violence in that school after the 'detox' or cold-turkey
period. In the spring '05 semester most of the district participated in
the program. They received a statistically significant reduction in violence
and bullying across the entire school district. The five schools who put
the program in place before the state standardized tests received a 15%
increase in math scores and an 18% increase in writing scores as compared
to the seven schools which did not have the program in place at that point.
This was the first district-wide application of the Stanford University
"SMART" Curriculum, which was demonstrated to be effective at
reducing violence in a double-blind, controlled experiment conducted by
Stanford Medical School.
This school district has received a US federal government grant to be
the national distributors of this information. In Oct 2006 they will have
their fourth international conference to teach educators about the curriculum.
All attendees will be provided with the curriculum, and they will be given
instruction in the implementation of the curriculum by educators and administrators
who have had first-hand experience with it. (For more info on this conference,
see the front page of the www.killology.com web site.)
Bottom line is that we are going to treat adult rated (M = NC-17 = X)
video games like we treat pornography, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, automobiles,
sex and drugs: something that adults can have, but if you sell it to kids
you are a criminal. The video game industry says it is the parent's job.
Imagine any other industry (guns, alcohol, etc) trying that line? "I
know that kid was 10, and yes he walked into my pawn shop, bought a fifth
of liqueur and a gun, but where were the parents? It's the parent's job
to keep him out!" No other industry would try that line. The only
other group of individuals who would say that are child abusers: "I
know that little girl was 8, but it's the parent's job to keep me away
from her." This industry is functioning with child abuser logic,
and they will pay a profound price for it.
Every new piece of technology has to be digested. Repeating firearms were
in existence for 100 years before we regulated children's access to them.
Cars were around for 50 years before we regulated kids' access to them.
Tobacco was sold to children for well over 100 years before we reeled
in that industry. Basically, the video game industry can chose to be like
the automobile industry, and embrace the regulation of their product when
it comes to kids, or they can be like the tobacco industry and fight to
sell their product to minors. Clearly they have chosen the tobacco route,
and they will pay the same kind of price that we have seen in the tobacco
industry. The video game industry's future is the same as that of the
tobacco industry, almost exactly, step by step, and they have chosen that
fate for themselves.
Michigan kids urged to kick the TV habit
By John Flesher, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, February 28, 2006 ·
Last updated 1:06 a.m. PT
Jessica Beauchamp, 11, a fifth-grader at Lemmer Elementary School in Escanaba,
Mich., talks Nov. 11, 2005, about how she has cut back her television
time by an hour a day, and spends the time playing with her sister. (AP
Photo/John L. Russell)
ESCANABA, Mich. -- Principal Mike Smajda was horrified
to learn that one of his first-grade pupils at Lemmer Elementary School
had watched "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
Not long afterward, the boy was playing in a leaf pile with a girl when
he suddenly began kicking her in the head. Another boy joined in.
"They felt it was part of the game," Smajda said. "They
both kicked her until her head was bleeding and she had to go to the hospital."
Smajda can't prove the R-rated slasher movie provoked the child. But the
November 2004 incident reinforced his commitment to an anti-violence program
getting under way at his school.
It challenged students to do without TV and all other screen entertainment
for 10 days, then limit themselves to just seven hours a week. The district's
other schools joined in over the next year.
Administrators and teachers say short-term results were striking: less
aggressive behavior and, in some cases, better standardized test scores.
Officials in the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District in Michigan's
rural Upper Peninsula are so enthusiastic about the program they sponsored
a national conference last spring and plan another for April.
Designed by child health specialists at Stanford University, the program
was intended for third- and fourth-graders, but Delta-Schoolcraft tailored
it for kindergarten through eighth grade.
"I don't know of any other school district that has gone as far with
this," said Lt. Col. David Grossman, a former West Point psychology
professor and youth violence expert who introduced the program, called
Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television.
More than 1,000 studies have established a connection between violent
entertainment and youthful aggression, but other factors such as family
breakdown and peer influence might share the blame, the American Academy
of Pediatrics has said.
The Stanford researchers wanted to determine whether significant cutbacks
in television and video would make children less prone to violence. A
trial run of their program in San Jose, Calif., had promising results,
"I can't speculate on every individual violent act, but we do know
that exposure to violent content does cause more aggressive behavior overall
and that reducing screen time does reduce aggression overall," research
team leader Dr. Thomas Robinson told The Associated Press by e-mail.
Smajda announced the TV turnoff during an assembly at Lemmer Elementary
in Escanaba, a Lake Michigan shoreline town of 13,000 where lounging in
front of the tube rivals snowmobiling and ice fishing as means of coping
with long, bitter winters.
"Oh my lord, I thought they were going to chase me out of the gym,"
he said, recalling the boos and hisses. Still, about 90 percent of the
400-plus students took part to some extent.
"It was so boring, it was miserable," said 9-year-old Sydney
Hardin, who nevertheless stuck with the program - as did sisters Sara,
13, and Emily, 5.
They found other things to do: reading, playing outside with friends,
riding bikes. As other schools got involved, the community pitched in.
The YMCA offered free temporary memberships; the city library organized
card games and knitting classes.
At Rhonda Walker's home, TV screens went dark and video games with even
mild violence were outlawed for her sons, ages 6 and 10. Since then, the
older boy's reading has improved and the family does more things together.
"We just played 'Clue' for an hour last night because they want to
spend time with me," Walker said.
Observers charted aggressive playground incidents - shoving, hitting,
obscene gestures, name calling - at eight elementary schools immediately
before and after the program. The totals dropped at every school but one.
Overall average decline: 52 percent.
The district also compared scores of fourth-graders who took standardized
tests during the turnoff in January 2005 with scores of fourth-graders
tested before the turnoff. Math and writing scores made double-digit leaps.
"Even more positive results than we'd hoped for," said Kristine
Paulsen, the district's general education director.
But will they last? Robinson, the Stanford researcher, is studying his
program's long-term effects in California but hasn't reported results.
Smajda plans to continue the program at his school, but says its success
will depend more on what happens at home.
"We're trying to educate parents to monitor what their kids are watching,"
he said. "Many of them don't have a clue."